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Niagara Railway Museum Blog

November 22, 2015

Recent news – Part 1 – Train Shows, Donations and Around the Shop

Its been extremely busy around the Museum the last month, and I’m a bit behind in posting updates. The October Model Railway Show is now behind us, and I’m pleased with the results. We are now looking forward to our next show on March 6th. Other shows we’ve been taking part in were the Woodstock Show in October, and the Ancaster TH&B Flea Market, which was one of our best Ancaster shows ever.


The Weekenders N scale layout.


Show floor nearing the end of the day.

We’ve also had some great donations, including a rare set of items from the Royal Train in June 1973 from the family of Murray and Morley VanAlstine. Murray & Morley were twin brothers.  They both worked for CN out of Niagara Falls.  They hired on, on the same day, got their engineman papers the same day, and retired the same day. They were in Ripleys Believe It Or Not, and were also both part of the crew on the Royal train. The donation included 2 photo albums covering the brothers careers, a menu, complete set of train orders and other paperwork from the Royal Train.  We also have a set of book ends cut from a piece of rail showing the brothers on their last trip. This is a great addition to the Museum and the items will be on display in 2016.


The last run banner.


The VanAlstine Brothers on their last trip.

After many years of work, we have finally finished the largest part of our track construction, and now have 2 tracks to the shop which we will be able to move between. Our track crew was often only 4 people, but thanks to Wayne Ettinger of Trillium Railway Co. Ltd, we were able tocomplete the job easier as he loaned us the companies hydraulic track tools.  We pre set the spikes then drove them in with the spiker. There is still some work to do, just some fine tuning, but we expect to be able to get our final boxcar inside for the winter.  We also thank Bill Snow and Doug Campbell of Rankin Construction for donating 2 truck loads of ballast, and Milton and Clayton from Attar Metals for moving some ballast and adjusting our track. Clayton brought theskidsteer over to assist us with some basic work. Without the generous assistance they frequently provide,  we would not be as far along as we are.

As a surprise to our members, our November meeting was held in a special location at the Niagara District Airport. Genaire Ltd has former CN flanger 56323, which was converted to an open conference room many years ago.  It is identical to the car we have, except where we have from the frame down, this car has the body we are missing. A big thanks goes to Lorraine Warner of Genaire for allowing us to have our meeting in their former CNR wood body Flanger. It was a big hit with our members, and it’s still being talked about as the best meeting spot yet!!

October 4, 2015

NRM End of the Season

It has been a very busy year for the NRM, and we would like to extend our thanks to everyone who came out to our open house weekends, and to our Summer Saturdays, July to September.  With our events done at the shop for 2015, we move to our off site displays and events, and our biggest one is our annual Fall Niagara Model Railway Show held at the Merritton Community Centre, 7 Park Avenue in St. Catharines on October 25th, 10am to 3:30pm.

However, there is still work happening on Saturdays at the shop.  Equipment restoration continues with the Plymouth diesel cab, baggage cart, and hopefully over the winter, the CN Flanger. Other work is mechanical on our Whiting Trackmobile, towmotor and Woodings motorcar. The damaged rear supports on the ex-CN Fairmont M19 motorcar have been replaced, and the car will be ready for service in 2016.

The NRM can only do so much with what we have. We are always looking for supplies and materials to continue the work at the site. Some of the major items we need right now are track materials (OTM) including 100lb joint bars and bolts, rail, and ties. Shop tools include anything for wood working, as we have some pretty major projects coming up that require extensive wood construction.

And of course we are always looking for financial contributions to further our work in preservation. If you feel you have some free time on your hands, don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then the NRM may be the place for you.  We are looking for dedicated volunteers who enjoy a fun environment, working with different types of railway equipment. If you think you’d like to get involved, please contact us. We’d be happy to have you aboard.



April 13, 2015

Progress continues

While there has been a lack of posts recently, it has not stopped the progress at the Museum.  Over the winter when weather permitted, we were able to reset the display car, creating new displays and new display space within the CP 40′ boxcar. 2015 will be our biggest display year yet with permanent displays throughout the year. Our 3 HO models of the bridges of Niagara will be on display for the first time, as will some of our different, never before seen artifacts.  Most of our lantern collection will be out for viewing as well. and this is just in the new display car.  There will also be artifacts inside the office area as always, and new equipment displays in the shop.  In 2015 visitors will be able to see many of our smaller pieces of equipment like our 1939 Nordberg track grinder, and Pyke crane.


With all of the Museums equipment on site, it starts a new era for the NRM. New for display this year will be the cab from CN F7a 9173 which will be open for visitors to view. Of course the display car as previously mentioned is all new, and a few more surprises which we can’t disclose as of yet. Also for the first time in 2015, the Museum will have regular operating days, which will be Saturdays in July and August from 10-3


For now, members will be busy waking the equipment up for the year, uncovering it and cleaning it up for display. Restoration will continue on the equipment as we push to complete multiple projects. Track work starts Saturday April 18th, and as always, the Museum is always looking for help and new volunteers.  SO please ontact us if you’d like more information on how to get involved.


Be sure to mark your calendars for our first open house of 2015, which is May 30 & 31, 10am to 4pm both days.  Event runs rain or shine. Lots to see and do in 2015, and even more to come.  Watch here for more information, or follow us on facebook and twitter (@niagararailway)

May 27, 2014

NRM plea for help


The Niagara Railway Museum Inc. has many projects ongoing at the shop. But right now we have one major ongoing one, which is the movement of our 3 boxcars. We are seeking funds to help pay for the over the road move.

However, a new, urgent plea for help is being extended, as a rare opportunity for the Museum has come to light.  We have a chance to acquire the cab of  long scrapped CN F7a #9173. This item is on the verge of being scrapped by the current owner.  We are seeking funds to pay for the movement of the cab to our site. Since many of the F Units were maintained at Fort Erie, this is a perfect display for the NRM.  All donors would be recognized on plaques inside the cab. Time is of the essence on this project as the cab has to be moved as soon as possible.


ex-CN F7a 9173 survives as a cab only. Help the NRM save it.

The NRM is an Incorporated Charity registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. A tax receipt will be issued for donations over $25.

Please contact the NRM if you would like to donate to either of these projects.

September 30, 2012

The Flanger arrives!!

The Niagara Railway Museum Inc. is pleased to announce the arrival of their donated ex-CNR snow flanger. Built in December 1923 for the Grand Trunk Railway as wood boxcar #26471,it later became a CN boxcar #346671.  In 1936 it was rebuilt into a flanger by CN as #56452 before being retired in 1980.  The car was acquired by the City of Welland Chamber of Commerce and placed near the old Niagara St. Catharine’s & Toronto Railway line, and became a tourist information booth at the corner of East Main St and Prince Charles Dr.

The flanger in Welland in 1984paul_duncan_ photo4-mar2000sm

The flanger in Welland in 1984 when it was open, and after the fire in 2000.

(both photos collection of Paul Duncan)

By the year 2000, the info booth was no longer open, and in 2000 it was destroyed by fire.  The car was pretty much a total loss.  With the significant damage, the car was destined for scrapping when the owner of Trillium Railway in Port Colborne stepped in and acquired the car.  The body was stripped and the remaining frame moved to storage in Welland.  Initial plans were to use the car for a shoving platform for back up moves in Thorold. However, a more suitable caboose was found and the flanger was left in the weeds.

flangernov07Flanger 07awsm

The flanger in Dain City on Nov. 23, 2007, and moved into loading position on Sept. 29th, 2012. (photo credit – Ken Jones, Aaron White)

In 2011, the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. was approached and asked if we would be interested in having the car for our museum.  Seeing as how this piece had spent so much of it’s life in Niagara, the NRM felt it would be a suitable item, despite the deteriorated condition.  After almost a year of work to find someone who could move the car, the time finally came, and on September 29th, 2012, the flanger was loaded onto a float and made it’s final trip to the NRM shop at Fort Erie.

Flanger 05awsmflanger1sm

Being loaded at Dain City, almost finished, and arriving at the Museum shop in Fort Erie.

(photo credit – Aaron White, Ken Jones)

It was a quick trip from Dain City to the Museum site in Fort Erie, and everything went as planned.  The loading was perfect, as was the move and the unloading at the site.  The truck was positioned at the north track of the shop, the former heavy repair bay, where locomotives would receive major overhauls.  The rear of the deck was lowered, and the car rolled smoothly off the trailer, and onto the rails of it’s new home.  All in all, it was over in just a couple of hours.  Once the car was safely inside, members started looking over the car, seeing what needed to be worked on first.


The first axle touches the rails at the NRM shop. The car in its new home, ready for repairs.

(photos by Ken Jones)

A big thanks to all the NRM members who came out to help with the loading and unloading of our new piece of rolling stock, Attar Metals for assisting with some of the prep work, and to Marcel for his expertise in this move.  Next step is the repairs of the car, and the movement of our 3 ex-CP Rail boxcars.  Stay tuned here for more information.

If you would like to contribute to the restoration of this unique and fading piece of railway history, please contact us.

September 25, 2011

Break in break through!!

After over a year, an arrest was made in one of the break ins at our shop.  The article on the Niagara Falls Review Website can be seen here.  Please note, the break in WAS NOT at the Fort Erie Railway Museum as it says, but was in fact at the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. shop, located at the listed address.

March 9, 2011

11th Annual NF Model Railway Show

Well, despite Mother Nature dropping a wonderful 6″+ of snow overnight, and making the roads all over the region very treacherous, the 11th Annual NF Model Railway Show was still a decent success.  4 vendors were not able to make it due to the road conditions, but those that did make it to the show had no complaints.  This was our first major fundraiser of the year, and it is always a great help to the Museum.  This years show once again had vendors from across Ontario, selling everything from photos to videos, to model trains. We also had 4 layouts, Z, N, HO, & G.   The NRM had a display as did the Fort Erie Historic Railway Association, a group raising funds to cosmetically restore and preserve CNR 4-8-4 #6218 in Fort Erie.  My thanks go to all the vendors who made it out to the show, and of course to all of our hard working Museum volunteers that gave up their day to work the NRM table, canteen, door and kitchen.  Our next major railway show is our Fall Model Railway Show which will be held on October 30th, 2011, at Optimist Park Hall. 

Also, stay tuned for more info on the first Niagara Railway Museum golf tournament.  Details will be coming shortly.

February 22, 2011

Niagara Falls Model Railway Show

The 11th annual NF Model Railway Show is now just a few days away, and it’s shaping up to be another great “spring” show, with 4 layouts, and vendors from across Ontario, selling everything from trains to t-shirts, collectibles to historic items.  There is definitly something for everyone.  Admission is still just $5 with under 12 admitted free with a paying adult.  As always, the best railway chili around will be available.  All proceeds go to support the Niagara Railway Museum, so come out and support the NRM as we proceed with our goals of creating a Railway Museum the entire Region can be proud of.

February 5, 2011

Despite the ongoing snowfall, and cold temperatures, there are still lots of things going on with the Niagara Railway Museum.  Our next display will be at Niagara Square Shopping Centre in Niagara Falls, on February 18, 19 & 20, 2011.  We are one of many local history groups taking part in this annual display of local heritage.  The event runs during mall hours, and there is always a lot to see (and learn).

After that, we have the 11th Annual Niagara Falls Model Railway Show on March 6th, at Optimist Park Hall in Niagara Falls.  The show runs from 10am-330pm, and features model railway vendors, layouts, and railway displays from across Ontario.  There is something for everyone, and the best Railway Chili around.  This is our major fundraiser for the year, so come on out and support the Niagara Railway Museum.

The Museum is still seeking funds for the move of the flanger, and for the purchase of track materials.  If you would like to donate to the NRM please see out website.  If you would like to become involved with the Museum in any way, a volunteer form can also be downloaded right from the website, or stop by any of our upcoming events and talk to one of our volunteers.

September 28, 2010

NRM update

While most work has stopped on the shop itself, other than routine cleaning, work continues on equipment restoration.  E-7 has had 2 footboards re-installed, and the restoration to operation of the Plymouth MDT40t is also progressing.  The diesel engine is said to be in very good condition, and we are currently tracking down a few minor parts needed to make it complete.  One of which is an air filter, which apparently is no longer available (what a suprise!!).  While it doesn’t look like there will be windows in the shop by the winter, we do have plans to use very heavy plastic sheeting to cover the windows, as much as we can anyways, to make the building a bit more weather proof.  We are also working on a new look to our website, and will soon be adding a link where visitors can make online donations to the Museum.  At this time, the NRM shop is closed, however, visitors are welcome by prior arrangement, or if any of our volunteers are at the shop the day you show up.  Admission is as always, by donation.  The Fall Niagara Falls Model Railway Show will be held on October 31st, 2010, 10am-3:30pm at Optimist Park Hall on Dorchester Rd in Niagara Falls.  Contact us for more information.

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